Pot Prohibition Is Over

Jacob Sullum on the beginning of the end of the war on marijuana.


"When The New York Times says we should legalize marijuana, I think maybe I should re-evaluate my position," jokes Reason senior editor Jacob Sullum, who spoke with Reason TV about the remarkable evolution of national drug policy over the last 25 years.

During the "Just Say No!" years of the 1980s, less than a quarter of Americans supported the legalization of marijuana. Today, even presidential candidates eager to claim the legacy of drug warrior Ronald Reagan are relaxing their views on prohibition.

"When they repealed alcohol prohibition, it was left up to the states what to do with alcohol," says Sullum. "And so you have most of the Republican presidential candidates saying the federal government should not interfere if the states want to legalize. That's really an amazing development."


By contrast, progressives have been critics of the war on drugs, he says. It's only when marijuana becomes an industry, run by capitalists, that the left gets uneasy. Libertarians and progressives tend to spar over the nature of regulation of the drug business, not the need for or desirability of legalization itself.

In 2016, recreational marijuana reform may be on the ballot in nearly a dozen states and Sullum is optimistic. With support for recreational marijuana polling at a record-high 58 percent, it's only a question of how many states legalize in next year's elections.

Sullum believes that California, the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, is the best bet for passage and the most influential state in play. "There's a good shot it's going to pass. It's kind of surprising that California has not legalized marijuana by now," says Sullum, who is also the author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Usea nationally syndicated columnist, a drug-policy blogger at Forbes.

About 9 minutes. Produced and hosted by Todd Krainin. Thumbnail photo by Chuck Grimmett.

(The story was originally released on November 30, 2015.)

NEXT: Ultimate Victim Blaming? NY Daily News Col Compares San Berdoo Killer w Victim

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Pot Prohibition Is Over

    Coulda fooled me. Or, moreso, all those people being jailed daily for having teh weedz….

    1. Don’t do it! Bitch set me up!

    2. “Or, moreso, all those people being jailed daily for having teh weedz..”

      Yep. Fat lady’s still crooning as far as I can tell.

  2. Maybe I should order some shatter for delivery to commemorate that things are getting better about weed legalization. Because I just recently ordered some Super Lemon Haze and some Jabba’s Stash.

    1. Order shatter. Get shither.

  3. In California you can have a doctor evaluation via video conference on your smart phone then have your choice of edibles, concentrates, or dozens of different buds delivered to your house. All of this can be accomplished within 2 hours on any day of the week and you never have to leave your house. It’s already “legal”, the only question left is how does the State get it’s cut of the billion dollar business? And once that’s accomplished, how do the Fed’s get their cut in return for overturning Federal prohibition? I can’t imagine a scenario in California where the weed genie gets put back in the bottle.

    1. I imagine that it will stay like it is here.

      If you’re well connected, or even reasonably smart about it, you’ll be fine.

      If somebody wants to arbitrarily fuck you over, they still can.

      1. There’s a reason some people prefer Grey Markets.

  4. It will likely devolve into crony-town when it comes to awarding licences for commercial production.
    Hopefully in most cases home production is allowed.

    1. Yeah, the best anyone can hope for is something similar to regulations that allowed for home brewing. I reap the awesome benefits of that every time I’m able to pick up a six pack of Grapefruit Sculpin at the gas station.

      1. pick up a six pack of Grapefruit Sculpin at the gas station

        If only the market would have McEwan’s Scotch Ale at every gas station.

        1. I haven’t had McEwan’s since we were in Edinburgh in….’04. Can’t find it in the US. Tennent’s I can get, and I like it. But no McEwan’s. I haz a sad 🙁

          1. Very easy to find right here across the border at many local beer stores.

  5. Careful, Jacob. Loretta Lynch might come after you because of that incendiary rhetoric.

    1. Terrorists kill 14 people, and that bitch is worried about hurt feelings. The Obama adminustration, the derp that keeps on derping.

  6. This is not really related to anything in particular, but holy crap, look at his fingers.

    1. Lookin’ good Keith!

  7. I can’t wait until CVS stocks reefer and magic mushrooms.

  8. Schedule I is bullshit and governed by political considerations, not actual science. All drugs listed there should be moved to Schedule II (if not lower). I’d prefer the abolition of the Schedule system completely….but baby steps…

    1. Loperamide made it in steps from schedule 1-N to uncontrolled OTC.

  9. OT, in wacky Maoist cult news:

    He would call them into his room one by one, as by appointment, and forced them to perform degrading sexual acts.

    In order to create fear amongst the women, he harnessed an invisible mythical force called “Jackie” which he claimed was a mind control machine which read their thoughts.

    He portrayed himself as an “all-powerful and all-seeing” God-like figure and convinced his followers that he controlled the sun, moon and wind.

    1. ….But enough about Jan Wenner….

    2. Is that the same Jackie from the Rolling Stone article?

      1. I think it’s just a coincidence, since the cult has been around for decades.

  10. Yeah, not really. Right now I’m going through a dry spell. I can’t find any from my normal sources. Oh sure, there’s plenty of it around. I just don’t have access to it. I see people in DC handing each other bags out in the open on the street, but I can’t just go up and ask them for one. Anyway, if pot prohibition were over I could easily go out and get a bag, but no.

    1. Asking might not be so bad if you approached them the right way. My brother used to walk up to random black guys in the Winn Dixie parking lot, with some success, before he found a better connection.

  11. The problem is not pot. The problem is the fanatical preachers (of all religions) that are corrupting our vulnerable children and turning them into mass shooters. We must crack down on hateful extremist ideologies. Fortunately Obama is on the job. Stay tuned for his address tonight at 8 PM EST – he will declare Jihad on ‘mental illness’ and ‘hate speech’!

    1. I’ll be listening to the hockey game.

      1. I’ll be listening to my own farts.

  12. Ex mayor Bloomberg: Paris climate talks are a clear-cut success: mayors of 400 cities have “set bold climate goals”. Take that doubters!

    1. Good lord was that paragraphs of complete drivel.

      1. The only reassuring thing is that he gets ripped in the comments.

  13. Win Bear:

    I don’t see why you think of the “tragedy of the commons” as a neo-liberal concept

    I referred to the outlets whose resources I posted as neoliberal. Marginal Revolution University was created by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok (who narrates the video), both of whom are professors at George Mason University (known for having a market-friendly economics department) and both of whom work for libertarian think tanks (the Mercatus Center and the Independent Institute, respectively). The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, while in its first edition published by someone else (Fortune?), is in its current edition published by the Liberty Fund, also a libertarian outfit. IIRC it was edited by David Henderson, who is also libertarian(-ish?).

  14. Prohibition is still alive and well in Idaho.

  15. Why you restart comment thread? Why no continue from Nov. 30?

    Because weekend, expect catchall comment thread? That game you play?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.